IN RE JORDAN T. J. - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Jan 30, 2013

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Mark C. Odle, Dickson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tommy J.

Attorneys 2:

Hilary H. Duke, Dickson, Tennessee, for the appellees, Jeffrey G. and Brenda G.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

The father in this termination of parental rights case, who was incarcerated at all times material to this case at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison and is indigent, appeals the termination of his rights contending he was denied due process because he was not informed of his rights as required under Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-113(f), he did not sign a waiver of his rights, and he was not provided a court-appointed attorney. The father, who did not file a responsive pleading to the petition, contends, inter alia, that the trial court failed to comply with Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-113(f), which mandates that he be informed that he has the right to participate and contest the allegations and, if he wished to contest the petition, that a court-appointed attorney would be provided to assist in contesting the petition. The record does not contain a signed waiver by the father nor does it reflect that the juvenile court made the requisite determination that he was informed of his rights and, after being informed, voluntarily waived his right to a court-appointed attorney to assist in contesting the petition, or that, if he did not participate after being informed of his rights, the court may proceed with such action without the parent’s participation as set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-113(f)(5). We, therefore, vacate the judgment of the juvenile court as it pertains to the father’s parental rights and remand with instructions for the juvenile court to comply with Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-113(f) and, if the father wishes to contest the petition, that a court-appointed attorney be provided and the case set for a new trial once his attorney has had a reasonable opportunity to prepare.